Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) participants are invited to experience the art of photography and a celebration of women and diverse voices with a new exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Reel Women: Icons and Identity in Film, organized by Crystal Bridges in collaboration with the George Eastman Museum and the Bentonville Film Festival, is a collection of 14 celebrity photos of actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The photographs in this exhibition (on display April 20-July 18) are from the George Eastman Museum collection in Rochester, NY, a partner of BFF and the world’s oldest museum dedicated to film and photography.

Co-founded and chaired by Academy Award® winning actor Geena Davis, BFF champions women and diverse voices in media. The festival, hosted by ARC Entertainment, Walmart, Coca-Cola and AMC Theatres in Bentonville May 3-8, aims to influence entertainment media to ensure that the American entertainment industry fairly represents the national audience (comprised of more than 50 percent women) and the growing diversity of the population of the United States.

In support of BFF’s mission, Reel Women explores the images of celebrity actresses and their power to project a feminine ideal that is often unrealistic. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, between 1930 and 1960, movie studios commissioned highly artistic and glamorous photographs of movie stars to promote the actors and their studios. Hungry for a peek inside the daily lives of the rich, beautiful and famous, fans began to consume images of stars, some—like these—created by artists, and others churned out by paparazzi. The popularity of celebrity portraits has endured as part of our entertainment culture.

Professionally made photographs of these famous women underscore the tension between personal identity and the self as public icon. Over time, actresses―once under the control of the studios that managed their personas― started to take charge of their images.

In conjunction with the Reel Women photography exhibition, BFF will host a free Gallery Talk on Wednesday, May 4 at 11:30am. Director of the George Eastman Museum Bruce Barnes and Curatorial Assistant Alison Demorotski will engage in a deeper conversation about the portraits of these screen sirens (some of whom have been lost to history).

Following the Gallery Talk, BFF will screen two films in a Crystal Bridges library series that have been digitized at large screen resolution from original prints in collaboration with the George Eastman Museum and supported by the Bentonville Film Festival and Luna. This is a rare opportunity to view groundbreaking, vintage films that have not been seen in theaters is decades.

• Wednesday, May 4, 3pm: Borderline (1930). Paul Robeson, an African-American singer and actor who had an international career in singing (with a distinctive, powerful, deep bass voice), as well as acting in theater and movies, stars in this meditation on love and society bold in both subject matter and cinematographic technique.

• Thursday, May 5, 11am: Beasts of the Jungle (1913). Alice Guy-Blaché, the first female director who owned her own studio and produced more than 200 films, made Beasts of the Jungle over 100 years ago as one of her earliest works. It’s an extravagantly produced (for its time) location film combining exotic scenery and some very real wild animals.

“Providing visibility to those early pioneers of film and media is important and we have made that a fixture of the Bentonville Film Festival through special screenings, events and exhibitions.” says Tom Hoehn, BFF volunteer ambassador. “Although there is still a long way to go in this regard, the progress made to date has been forged by the efforts of many.”

High-res images are available for download here.

In addition to Reel Women, BFF also encourages festival-goers to ponder Crystal Bridges’ recently acquired “Maya’s Quilt of Life” (acrylic on canvas and painted, dyed and pieced fabrics, 1989) by Faith Ringgold from the art collection of the late author and activist Maya Angelou. The work hung in Angelou’s home and was commissioned by Oprah Winfrey for Angelou’s 61st birthday and provides a material connection to this year’s festival. BFF is proud to screen Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise in this year’s slate of competition films.

“Maya’s Quilt of Life” expands the presence of important black artists in the museum’s collection, building on other recent acquisitions of works by artists ranging from Edward Mitchell Bannister to Alma Thomas. At the same time, the work bolsters a key strength of Crystal Bridges’ collection (as well as BFF’s mission) by putting the spotlight on important women artists of the postwar period. This piece especially ties to this year’s film festival with the screening of “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise”

The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip, an ongoing exhibit, through May 30 features 100+ images by 19 photographers who were inspired by the American road trip, including iconic elements such as the Grand Canyon, Route 66, theme parks, as well as everyday America. The images provide offbeat and personal reflections of the photographers’ journeys, completed between 1955 and 2014. Throughout the exhibition, visitors will encounter interactive features and pop culture references including a road trip inspired video montage that includes a clip from the 1991 movie, Thelma and Louise, starring BFF’s own Geena Davis.

“Alongside film, photography plays an important role in American culture,” says Ali Demorotski, Crystal Bridges Curator for Reel Women and The Open Road. “We are excited to have these concurrent photography exhibitions so visitors can explore a variety of subject matters and artistic approaches.”

Organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, The Open Road represents the Crystal Bridge’s first large-scale photography exhibition. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Sponsored at Crystal Bridges by Coca-Cola, Stout Executive Search and ConAgra Foods.

As a special offer, BFF participants can show their film festival ticket at the museum’s Guest Services desk to receive free entry to The Open Road exhibition. Entry to The Open Road is also free on Thursday evenings.

High-res images are available for download here.

For more information about BFF, please visit or email your inquiry to


About Bentonville Film Festival (BFF)
Co-founded by Academy Award Winner® Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and President and CEO of ARC Entertainment Trevor Drinkwater in 2015, BFF is steeped in a mission focusing on content that exemplifies the growing diversity of the American landscape. Research and social action are deeply rooted in the objectives of the Festival and its leadership. BFF provides a platform to significantly increase the commercial value of content produced by minorities and women. The Festival takes place in early May in Bentonville, Arkansas and provides ongoing and turnkey distribution opportunities for its festival content and creators for global reach. BFF is the only film competition in the world to guarantee theatrical, television, digital and retail home entertainment distribution for its winners in partnership with AMC Theaters, Walmart, Lifetime, Starz and VUDU. 

About BFF Foundation: Bentonville Film Festival Foundation Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization focused on promoting women and diverse voice in the entertainment industry through research, education, mentoring and industry partnerships. The primary partner of the Foundation is the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

About Geena Davis and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media:  Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks. In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actress in “The Accidental Tourist” and earned the 2006 Golden Globe Award® for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, breaking ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show “Commander in Chief.”
Davis is recognized for her tireless efforts on behalf of women and girls nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the Founder and Chair of the nonprofit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount St. Mary’s College, the only research-based organization working with media and entertainment companies to engage, educate and influence the need for gender balance by reducing stereotyping and creating a diverse and inclusive range of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under.
Davis was recently appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Davis is also an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide. Davis is the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women. 

About AMC Theatres:
AMC (NYSE:AMC) is the guest experience leader with 387 locations and 5,426 screens located primarily in the United States. AMC has propelled innovation in the theatrical industry and continues today by delivering more comfort and convenience, enhanced food and beverage, greater engagement and loyalty, premium sight and sound, and targeted programming. AMC operates the most productive theatres in the country’s top markets, including No. 1 market share in the top three markets (NY, LA, Chicago)


About Crystal Bridges
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.

Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton chairs the Museum’s board of directors. Since its opening, the Museum has welcomed more than two million visitors, and garnered 9,000+ membership households. Some 110,000 school children have participated in the Museum’s Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. More than 250,000 visitors a year utilize the Museum’s 3.5 miles of walking trails.

Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, Museum Store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum’s 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola [3]— each reflecting a distinct moment in American artistic evolution—as well as major works by modern and contemporary American artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell. The permanent collection, which continues to grow through a strategic acquisition plan, is on view year-round and is enhanced by an array of temporary exhibitions.

Crystal Bridges provides year-round programming for all ages. including lectures, performances, classes, and continuing education for K-12 teachers. An award-winning app, available free for both Apple and Android devices, features audio tours of current and past exhibitions, and many of the Museum’s lectures and gallery talks are available in Crystal Bridges’ iTunes U site. A new initiative to develop high-quality distance-learning opportunities for students and teachers is underway.

Crystal Bridges also offers two research fellowship programs. The Tyson Scholars in American Art program supports full-time scholarship in the history of American art. The Reese Teacher Fellowship provides for research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences. Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at  

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